Top 10 Reasons Why a Fundraising Campaign Flops

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,Marketing for Nonprofits

Failing Street sign post

Do Not Enter "Failing Street" with your fundraising campaign

There are many reasons why your fundraising campaign fails – why it doesn’t come close to raising the revenue you targeted.

I’ve assembled my top ten reasons. See if you agree.

1. Copy isn’t reader-centric (put the donor or member in the spot light and make them the hero of your mission work)

2. Poor list

3. Too many editors change the copy until it becomes a weak mush. Leave it to the one pro who wrote it.

4. Single channel effort – didn’t integrate across multiple channels (online and offline)

5. Appeal is filled with business-like jargon; it’s cold and impersonal; it’s not written in language and tone that readers can relate to

6. No story; you need to put your nonprofit story-telling skills in action

7. No clear call-to-action stated multiple times that obviously shows how the donor makes a difference

8. No single person, family or critter that the reader can connect with through their own experiences; text dominated by sweeping generalities and nebulous facts

9. No package gestalt

10. No reminder sent to boost response

It could be summarized by saying that your appeal simply wasn’t interesting enough. Typically only small portions of the appeal are read (or scanned), so you’ve got to pique their interest and do so with a twist. Readers – donors or members – need to be able to grasp the main idea and its benefit within a few seconds of looking at your campaign.

Those ten reasons – although numbered – aren’t necessarily in order of importance or influence. Experienced fundraisers know that the top few reasons can shift from campaign to campaign.

You could easily add this to the list: Wrong message at the wrong time. Timing is a factor.

Then there are the “mystery” campaigns. With these campaigns you’ve done it all right and it still flops. I call these “mystery” campaigns because it is unknown … there are no clues … as to why it flopped. They’re simply one of the added challenges of our work.

What reasons are in your top ten list of why fundraising campaigns flop? Anything to add to my list?

Photo credit Chris Daniel via

{ 3 trackbacks }

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